The final score of the Gonzaga Prep-Mead boys basketball game Thursday didn’t do it justice.
For 31/2 quarters, the Greater Spokane League co-leaders found themselves locked in a tug of war.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Parker Kelly, though, broke it open late for the defending champions, and the second-ranked Bullpups went on a scoring binge to finish off visiting Mead 71-55 before a packed gym.
Mead’s 6-foot-7 senior post Aaron Dunn stepped out and buried a 3-pointer to pull the Panthers within 50-49 with 5:27 remaining. But Kelly, who had made just one of his previous 10 shots, found the spot in the left baseline corner, sinking the 3-pointers within 24 seconds of each other.
The final 4:42 became a blur to 10th-ranked Mead as G-Prep (17-1, 12-1) avenged its lone loss – 53-52 at Mead – by outscoring the Panthers (13-5, 11-2) 21-6 to make sure the finish wasn’t in doubt.
“We didn’t get out to Kelly,” Mead coach Glenn Williams said. “We played a lot of zone and were really tracking him well for the most part. But he’s one of those fiery shooters, and if gets a spot and an opening he’s going to take it. Those were huge.”
G-Prep’s efficiency in the final minutes was impeccable. Counting Kelly’s 3-pointers, the Bullpups made all six of their last shots and 6 of 8 free throws.
Trying to use as much of the shot clock on each possession, the Bullpups set a double screen for 6-7 post Ryan Nicholas, who got loose underneath and took a feed from Chris Sarbaugh as the shot clock ticked to 2 seconds. The basket extended G-Prep’s lead to 61-52 with 2:40 left.
On its next possession, G-Prep burned off 33 of the 35 seconds on the shot clock before Sarbaugh hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
The game featured a battle within the battle. Nicholas finished with a game-high 28 points and 12 rebounds while Dunn had 24 – 19 in the second half.
Sarbaugh supported Nicholas with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
“Nicholas is amazing on how he can get his hands on so many balls that are in the air,” Williams said. “I just think that was a huge difference.”
Nicholas gave his teammates credit. First, though, he complimented Mead.
“It was anything but a blowout,” Nicholas said. “They had their run in the first quarter and we came in the fourth quarter and had our run. The team did an unbelievable job.”
G-Prep coach Matty McIntyre praised both teams.
“That was a sheer test of wills,” McIntyre said. “Our execution was outstanding and the kids kept their composure.”
Shadle Park 61, North Central 38: The Highlanders locked up the top seed to the 3A district tourney by opening up a 32-9 lead by halftime.
The Highlanders (14-4, 10-2), who are tied with Mead for second in the loss column, got 21 points from Robby Douglas. Shadle shot 43 percent from the field to NC’s 24 percent. Gunnar Swager led NC (9-9, 7-5) with eight points.
Ferris 61, University 56: Three players scored in double figures as the visiting Saxons moved into fourth by themselves.
Jason Bates had a team-high 18 points for Ferris (10-8, 8-5) and teammates Connor Halliday and Riley Stockton had 15 and 10, respectively.
Spencer Drury had a game-high 20 points to lead the Titans (8-10, 5-8) and Kyle Bailey had 17 and nine rebounds.
Rogers 66, Mt. Spokane 65 (OT): The visiting Pirates made their free throws to hold off the upset-minded Wildcats.
The Wildcats (1-18, 0-13) outscored Rogers (10-9, 6-7) 13-7 in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Mt. Spokane outrebounded the Pirates 37-21.
Deavon Daniels led Rogers with 18 points. Hunter Hahn led the Wildcats with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Lewis and Clark 59, Central Valley 41: Mike Bond scored 14 points to lead the Tigers (9-9, 7-6) past the visiting Bears (2-11, 6-12).
Damond Justice led CV with 10 points.